Crime & Justice

Same-Sex Marriage
3:15 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

What Does the Supreme Court Punting on Same-Sex Marriage Mean For Texas?

A challenge to Texas' gay marriage ban is still tied up in a federal appellate court and was largely unaffected by the Supreme Court's inaction.
Tyler Pratt/KUT

It’s a big day for supporters of same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to take up the issue this year, which means same-sex marriages can continue in five states that currently ban the practice.

But where does that leave Texas? 

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision against weighing in on same-sex marriage means it will soon be legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia. 

But, in Texas, the marriages will not be allowed. A federal district judge ruled earlier this year that the Texas constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman relegates same-sex couples to second-class citizenship. But the judge also allowed the ban on same-sex marriages to continue while the case winds through the appeals process.

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Supreme Court
12:05 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Supreme Court Won't Hear Gay Marriage Cases In New Term

The Supreme Court has denied petitions to review same-sex marriage cases in several states, including Utah. In January, supporters of same-sex marriage held a rally at Utah's Capitol in Salt Lake City.
Jim Urquhart Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 1:15 pm

The Supreme Court's new term will not include any cases that might decide the issue of same-sex marriage in the U.S., a development that comes after many lower and appeals courts have ruled against states' bans on gay marriage. Advocates on both sides of the issue have been calling for the high court to review the issue and make an official ruling.

The court's refusal of all the petitions related to bans on gay marriage means that the appeals courts' decisions allowing gay marriage can now take effect. They had been on hold pending a potential review by the Supreme Court.

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Supreme Court
6:37 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Supreme Court To Weigh Facebook Threats, Religious Freedom, Discrimination

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 11:32 am

The U.S. Supreme Court opens a new term Monday, but so far the justices are keeping quiet about whether or when they will tackle the gay marriage question. Last week, the justices met behind closed doors to discuss pending cases, but when they released the list of new cases added to the calendar, same-sex marriage was nowhere to be seen.

But that really doesn't mean very much.

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Crime & Justice
6:38 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Crime Falls As U.S. Locks Up Fewer People, Attorney General Holder Says

In the past year, the U.S. prison population fell by roughly 4,800, the first time in decades the number has gone down, according to the Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder discussed the findings in New York on Tuesday.
Julio Cortez AP

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 5:20 pm

The U.S. is seeing "historic" progress in reducing both its crime and its incarceration rates, Attorney General Eric Holder said, with the federal prison population falling by some 4,800 inmates in the past year — "the first decrease we've seen in many ‎decades."

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Crime & Justice
8:06 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Houston Man Executed For Double-Murder in 1993

Death row prisoners in Texas are strapped to this gurney in Huntsville before they are executed.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

A Houston man was executed tonight for murdering two people in 1993. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says the execution drug pentobarbital was administered to Willie Trottie at 6:13 p.m. He was pronounced dead at 6:35 p.m. 

In 1993, Trottie burst into the family home of his ex-girlfriend Barbara Canada and shot her to death. He also killed her brother execution-style and wounded Canada's mother and sister, according to the TDCJ's offender information.  

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Texas Standard
3:42 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

The Dark Corners of the Web That Hacked Nude Celebrity Photos

Flickr user Marco Manna, https://flic.kr/ps/mRKBS

It's being called Celebgate: private photos of some of entertainment's most famous women, ricocheting around the web.

Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Lea Michele are among the female entertainers targeted. And the anonymous hacker claims to have private images of dozens more celebrities.

Fernando Alfonso III is a reporter with the Austin-based website The Daily Dot. He tells Texas Standard most photos appear to be gleaned from the performers' cloud storage accounts online. The photos were then posted to what the Dot describes as "the seediest corners of the Web," including the infamous, unmoderated image board called 4chan.

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Crime & Justice
11:19 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Back Home, Freed American Journalist Says He's 'Overwhelmed By Emotion'

Peter Theo Curtis smiles as he talks with reporters outside his mother's home in Cambridge, Mass., on Wednesday.
Charles Krupa AP

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 1:46 pm

American journalist Peter Theo Curtis was back home in Cambridge, Mass., today, after he was released by a militant group in Syria.

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Crime & Justice
7:25 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Round Rock Teen Accused of Selling Pot Brownies Won't Get Life Sentence

Jacob Lavoro faced a sentence of up to life in prison for selling pot brownies.
Credit Williamson County

A 19-year-old in Round Rock is no longer facing the possibility of life in prison for allegedly making marijuana brownies and selling them for $25 each. The case involving Jacob Lavoro attracted national attention. An online petition against the punishment has more than a quarter million signatures. 

Williamson County assistant District Attorney Mark Brunner says they decided not to pursue a charge based on the total weight of the brownies to avoid jury "distraction" during a possible trial. 

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Crime & Justice
10:14 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Increases in Child Abuse & Neglect Cases Strain Travis County Courts

Private attorneys are being hired to represent child abuse and neglect cases in Travis County because of a shortfall of attorneys.
flickr.com/fabliaux

This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

Representatives of Travis County children and parents involved in legal abuse and neglect cases have only 10-minute judicial hearings to present evidence of their safety and living situations, according to county civil court judges. County attorneys for indigent children and parents say their caseloads are to the point that they must hire private attorneys to help represent those involved.

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Crime & Justice
1:21 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

How Dallas is Trying to Prevent Another Ferguson From Happening

Protestors hold signs in solidarity with Ferguson, MO shooting victim Michael Brown.
Flickr user Light Brigading, https://flic.kr/ps/CcMsa

Police in Ferguson, Missouri finally released the name of the officer involved in the shooting death of Michael Brown this morning. Brown, an African-American teenager, was reportedly unarmed and with his hands in the air when he was killed August 10. The event has sparked public outrage in the predominately African-American community – outrage that has spread over the country.

The Ferguson Police Department has been criticized for its delay in releasing the officer's name, plus its militarized reaction to protestors including rubber bullets and tear gas. But officer involved shootings aren’t limited to Missouri – the reality is that they can happen anywhere.

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Crime & Justice
7:02 am
Thu August 14, 2014

In Tense Ferguson, Mo., 2 Reporters Caught In Arrests

A Demonstrator protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown holds up a sign Wednesday in Ferguson, Missouri.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 1:03 am

When SWAT officers gathered up everyone at a McDonald's restaurant on Wednesday night, they arrested not just locals, but reporters for The Washington Post and The Huffington Post, The Associated Press reports.

Both reporters later were released without being charged.

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Crime & Justice
7:15 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Protesters In St. Louis-Area Call For Accountability In Teen's Death

Protesters confront police during a rally protesting the shooting of Michael Brown, 18, by police in Ferguson, Mo. Brown died following a confrontation with police, according to St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.
Sid Hastings AP

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 5:47 pm

This post was updated at 6:40 p.m. ET.

In suburban St. Louis, business owners are cleaning up after a prayer vigil turned violent over the weekend. Meanwhile, protests continue over the death of an unarmed teenager who was shot by police on Saturday.

Reporter Rachel Lippmann of St. Louis Public Radio says about 60 people gathered outside of the Ferguson, Mo., police department Monday. They're calling for police to identify the officer involved and to charge him with murder. Others want the police force diversified in the majority-African-American city.

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Crime & Justice
7:29 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Austin Toddler Abducted

2-year-old Cheyenne Johnson and 33-year-old Jesse Thomas
APD

Final update on this story (Saturday 10:00 a.m.): The Austin Police Department and  the Texas Department of Public Safety say this Amber Alert has been canceled. They say two-year-old Cheyenne Johnson is now safe and the suspect, Jesse Thomas, is in custody after a standoff with authorities in northwest Harris County.

UPDATE (10:00 p.m.):  An Amber Alert has now been issued for Cheyenne Johnson. Anyone who may have information about this abduction is asked to call the Austin Police Department at (512) 297-0825 or 9-1-1.

Austin police are asking for help from the public in locating a child who was last seen at 1:54 Friday afternoon on the 1800 block of Anita Drive in South Austin.

Two-year-old Cheyenne Johnson is about two-and-a-half feet tall, weighs 25 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes.  She was wearing a navy blue shirt with flowers on it and navy blue shorts. She was last seen with 33-year-old Jesse Thomas, 6'01", about 220 pounds. 

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Austin Police
7:22 am
Mon August 4, 2014

How Much It Costs Austin Every Time SWAT Teams Roll Out

Officers train at the police department's shooting range in Southeast Austin.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

By the end of July, there had been twelve SWAT operations so far this year in Austin. Naturally, every time a SWAT team is deployed it costs money. But it’s not always the same amount – weekends and after-hours are a bit pricier than, say, a mid-day operation.

But, no matter the time, every time one of Austin's three SWAT teams rolls out on a call, it costs thousands of dollars an hour.

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Crime & Justice
6:24 am
Mon July 28, 2014

When Did Companies Become People? Excavating The Legal Evolution

Volunteers at the Lincoln Memorial help roll up a giant banner printed with the Preamble to the Constitution during an October 2010 demonstration against the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 12:52 pm

Are corporations people? The U.S. Supreme Court says they are, at least for some purposes. And in the past four years, the high court has dramatically expanded corporate rights.

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Crime & Justice
2:16 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

DFPS to Investigate If Sibling Drownings Were Result of Neglect

Credit WikiMedia Commons

An investigation has begun into the deaths of a 4-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister who drowned in Lake Georgetown this weekend while under the care of a foster family. 

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) had placed the children under the care of a state sub-contractor called Providence Kids, an agency specializes in placing sibling groups with foster families.

DFPS spokesperson Julie Moody says the children had lived in the foster home since last August. 

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Hobby Lobby at Supreme Court
9:46 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Some Companies Can Refuse To Cover Contraception, Supreme Court Says

Customers enter a Hobby Lobby store in Antioch, Calif., this past spring. The Supreme Court is ruling on the crafts store chain's resistance to portions of the Affordable Care Act. The store's owners cite their religious freedom.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 12:54 pm

The Supreme Court has ruled that family owned and other closely held companies can opt out of the Affordable Care Act's provisions for no-cost prescription contraception in most health insurance if they have religious objections.

The owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores and those of another closely held company, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., had objected on the grounds of religious freedom.

The ruling affirms a Hobby Lobby victory in a lower court and gives new standing to similar claims by other companies.

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Supreme Court
12:25 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

High Court Says Police Need A Warrant For Most Cellphone Searches

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 11:32 am

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that unless police have a warrant, they generally cannot search data on a cellphone seized from someone who has been arrested.

The decision is seen as a sweeping win for privacy advocates.

"Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. "With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans 'the privacies of life.'

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Supreme Court
10:01 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Aereo's TV Streaming Service Is Illegal, Supreme Court Says

Aereo.com, a Web service that provides television shows online, is shown on an iPhone on April 22. The company lost a Supreme Court case Wednesday, as the justices ruled it violates copyright law.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 11:18 am

Aereo, the company that lets subscribers watch TV stations' video that it routes onto the Internet, violates U.S. copyright law, the Supreme Court has ruled. The court's 6-3 decision reverses a lower court ruling on what has been a hotly contested issue.

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Crime & Justice
8:51 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Report Points To 'Dangerous Militarization' Of U.S. Law Enforcement

During a drill, SWAT team members prepare to secure a ship in Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 7:09 pm

U.S. law enforcement at all levels has undergone a dangerous militarization in recent years, with heavily armed SWAT teams being deployed to serve warrants and for drug searches, but rarely for the hostage situations they were designed for, the American Civil Liberties Union says in a new report.

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